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Bill Belichick Press Conference - 10/8/03

Belichick: [on New York] Watching them on tape, this is really an impressive football team.



BB: I think everybody has a copy of the injury report and the roster move from yesterday so let's get right in on the Giants. Watching them on tape, this is really an impressive football team. They've got a lot of great players. Offensively it is hard to pick a place to start but lets go with [Amani] Toomer. He has already set all of the records in receiving or is going to break them all this year. The guy is an outstanding player. Tiki Barber, I don't know what more you could say about him. The guy has done everything he can do as a back in that organization, return kicks, run the ball, caught the ball, is tough, durable and dependable, a great big playmaker. [Jeremy] Shockey, we all know what he has done already in his short time in the league. I am sure that he is heading to some of the same levels that Toomer and Barber are already at. Kerry Collins can make every throw. Ike Hilliard, [Jim] Finn has given them solid play at fullback. It is just a real good football team. [Luke] Petitgout I think is one of the better left tackles in the league. They are really a solid offensive football team that is very explosive. Defensively, it all starts up front with [Keith] Hamilton and [Cornelius] Griffin inside and [Michael] Strahan and [Kenny] Holmes outside. The linebackers are very active. Dhani Jones, [Brandon] Short and [Mike] Barrow are all very athletic and run well. They have a couple of good young corners there with [Will] Peterson and [Will] Allen. Shaun Williams is a big hitter at safety. Omar [Stoutmire] is a solid guy in there. The kicking game with [Brian] Mitchell, I think that has been a good addition for him. David Tyree is probably the best cover player we will face this year and has been very explosive in the kicking game. I think they are a real good football team. They are well coached and they are tough. They are very explosive. I think there are so many plays where they just go out there and dominate the front defensively or offensively they have guys making 20, 30, 40-yard plays. They led the league last year in big plays, plays over 20 yards and I can see why. They have a lot of guys that can make them and they make a lot of them. They have a good quarterback. They are a very, very explosive football team coming in here Sunday. I have a lot of respect for them. I spent 12 years in the organization, 12 good years. I certainly know what they are capable of. We have seen them the last couple of years in the preseason but it is just not the same as going up against them like we will Sunday afternoon. They will have their guns loaded and I am sure they will emptying their barrels on us.

**Q: What happened in that Miami game? Were turnovers a problem?

BB:** Turnovers were a little bit of a problem. They got hit on a reverse and they missed a couple of tackles and gave up a 60-yard reverse or whatever it was. Miami is another good football team. Those are two good football teams. A couple of plays go a different way, they lost their field goal kicker and weren't able to hit a short field goal when the kicker was out. So that was a big three points there. Just a couple of plays in that game and it is a different story. The same thing obviously with the Dallas game, this team is two or three plays away from being 4-0.

**Q: Are they maybe susceptible to trick plays?

BB:** They are pretty good and pretty sound. Look, you could maybe do whatever you want if you could get past the guys upfront, it is hard. Those guys make a lot of plays. They are very disruptive. Strahan just does everything well. He is very instinctive, powerful guy in the running game, and a good pass rusher. Holmes on the other side is a good book end for them. They have a couple of young kids in there with [William] Joseph and [Osi] Umenyiora who have given a little lift in there. Along with [Lance] Legree they have a little rotation system going in there. But those two inside guys, Griffin and Hamilton, are a load. Trying to get past them and trying to get the ball off and trying to find time to do some of the things that you think, 'Well, yeah we could do this or we could do that,' but a lot of times the quarterback is on his back. The St. Louis game they sacked [Kurt] Warner how ever many times it was, it was a lot. They were pretty dominant in that game.

**Q: How does Strahan look so far this season?

BB:** Good. He is a load. He is tough in the running game. He has made a couple of plays instinctively that are some of the best plays that I have seen in my career. He had one play against Washington where they had a blitz on and he was rushing up the field and the back didn't take the proper footwork to pick up the blitz, he started a little bit too wide and Strahan just made an unbelievable play where he reached past [Jon] Jansen and grabbed him and grabbed [Rock] Cartwright and cut [Ralph Brown loose right up the middle for an easy sack. It was a very unselfish, instinctive play that you almost wouldn't even think to coach it, so many things would have to happen right and Strahan just does it.

**Q: So he works very well and understands the team concept?

BB:** He is a smart football player. He is one of those guys where you say, 'You think you can get this on him,' he is up the field. You think he can run inside then you try to run inside and trap him and he comes down there and blows the trap up and the next play you think, 'Well he is going to close and we are going to be able to get outside of him,' and he is up the field and he has got you cut off. How ever he knows whether it is the formation, the recognition of the play or whatever it is, he is really a good football player.

**Q: Could he have started on any of your old teams?

BB:** He could start for anybody. I think he could start for anybody.

**Q: I mean like the 1986 team.

BB:** Oh, hell yeah! Are you kidding me? We didn't have any defensive linemen in his class. Not even close. This guy is a really good football player. The thing that I have really been impressed with him this year is really his ability to do everything. In the running game, he is tough. Getting Hamilton back last week, that helped them a lot too, not that the other guys weren't doing a good job, but Hamilton is exceptional. Strahan is tough in the running game. He is smart. He makes a lot of plays that help other people make plays that he won't ever get credit for. But when you watch him do it, you really have an appreciation for his unselfish play. He is pretty good.

**Q: So you guys are in trouble then with [Tom] Ashworth?

BB:** That whole offensive line is going to have a tough match up. I told them that this morning. 'We are going to have a tough match up there. We are going to have to play our best game.' These guys are good.

**Q: How has Tom played? He has one sack in two games.

BB:** Tom has done a good job. I think overall his pass protection has been pretty good. He is a young player that has a couple of plays every game that he can learn from and improve on. Tom has taken advantage of some of the opportunities now in terms of playing time that he helped create for himself in preseason. Now that he is getting to play more, he has taken advantage of it and he is playing pretty well, not perfect, but it is not bad. If he can keep improving…I think the big thing for Tom is the big thing for our football team right now is just consistency. I think that we have shown that we can do some things well at one point or another. It is doing them well on a repetitive basis then being consistent. That goes for every aspect of our team whether it is the return game, whether it is pass defense or run defense, pass offense, goal line offense, everything. We just need to have more consistency and that goes for a lot of players.

**Q: He has had to go up against Kevin Carter and Jevon Kearse. Was that somewhat advantageous for him last week?

BB:** Yeah, we are seeing good ones every week. But that is how you get better too. Your technique has to be perfect. Your balance has to be perfect. You have to have a good set with your adjacent teammates, the guard or the tight end if he is in protection so you don't create seams in there and those kind of things. Everything has to be right against players like the one's you are talking about. It is definitely getting better. I would say Kevin Carter, Mike Strahan, it is as much of a challenge as you can get over there.

**Q: Do they move him around or do they keep him on the left side?

BB:** He plays on the left side. Sometimes he plays down on the guard. Most of time he plays on the tackle. Sometimes he is out on the tight end.

**Q: But they haven't moved him to the right at all?

BB:** No, he hasn't been over on the right side.

**Q: Would you ever consider moving Matt Light to the other side just for match up purposes?

BB:** I think Matt is going to stay at left tackle. He has been pretty consistent for us there for three years. Again, the big thing with the offensive line is just trying to develop the continuity and the consistency within that group so that whichever five guys those guys have to block, run or pass, our five have their five and we can get that part solidified. The more that we can keep things consistent and the more we can build on what we have done to try to make it better than I think that is better for us. It is not always possible to do that, but we try to.

**Q: Will Kenyatta Jones be ready to practice next week?

BB:** Kenyatta I think will be ready to practice next week, yes.

**Q: With Kevin Faulk and Antowain Smith both questionable, is it safe to say that Mike Cloud will get more than seven carries on Sunday?

BB:** Maybe. It will depend on how Kevin and Antowain are and a little bit too where Mike is at the end of the week. Hopefully, Mike will continue to progress. Even last week, I don' think he was really ready for everything offensively, all the protections, all the routes, all the runs. I think another week will help prepare him for that. At the same time Kevin and Antowain have both been productive for us and we will just have to see where they are at the end of the week. I think certainly, those two players have shown they can contribute this year and Mike did it in last week's game. If that can continue, maybe we can get production from all three of them.

**Q: Will Stephen Neal be able to practice? Is he in the same boat as Kenyatta?

BB:** No, I think Kenyatta is ahead of him. I would say that Kenyatta is ahead of him.

**Q: You ran the ball very well last week and you talked about the importance of consistency. What you did last week is this team capable of doing that on a regular basis?

BB:** We try to do what we need to do to win. If that is running the ball, it is running the ball. Obviously, we want to be balanced to a certain degree. Depending on how the game goes and a little bit of what defensively what we are seeing that cold alter our strategy a little bit. You go into a game trying to have a balanced attack and sometimes you are able to maintain that during a game and sometimes you are not. Whether it is your execution or defensively what you are seeing and sometimes that path shifts a little bit one way or the other. Those are kind of game adjustments or game situations that you have to react to. We certainly have plenty of runs and plenty of passes ready to go in the game. How those go and how those will fit once we actually get in there and start running them and the Giants start playing them, then that will be a little bit of a game adjustment situation.

**Q: You talked a lot about consistency. How does a team achieve that? How do they actually go out and do that?

BB:** I think it just starts with taking advantage of every opportunity that you get. It starts on the practice field. It starts with instead of having two good days of practice in a week, have three good ones. Instead of having five good plays in nine on seven, have six. Instead of having six have seven. Let's walk off the practice field having consistent practice where we are not dropping the ball, we are not missing an assignment or we are not in the wrong gap defensively or that kind of thing. Let's have more concentration, more focus and communicate better as a unit and eliminate each of those little mistakes so that each time we go out there, we play a little bit better. We've had to make a few changes and adjustments in the last couple of weeks, I think at this point some of that, we've had to make fewer the last couple of weeks not that we still don't have some, that is always part of it, but the one's that we haven't, hopefully we can get more consistency in those areas. I think it starts on the practice field and certainly you try to take what you get on the practice field and carry that over into Sunday afternoon and play with more consistency as well. For example in the second half last week, we eliminated a lot of the penalties. That certainly helped us. We had a lot in the first half. Some of those were drive stoppers or presented second opportunities for the Titans and that kind of thing. That is part of the consistency too. When you have eight [penalties] in one half and two in the second, why can't we have two in both halves?

**Q: You talked Monday about the adjustments that Tom [Brady] and Deion [Branch] made on third down late in the game. How have you seen their on-field relationship, their timing, their chemistry develop in year two?

BB:** I think the receivers and the quarterbacks have developed a good verbal and visual communication system this year. Those guys spend a lot of time after practice and they meet during the week and watch film during the week and talk, just in that group without coaches, they do it o their own and talk through it, 'What are you going to do on this route? Here is what I am looking for,' that kind of thing. Then after practice they have take certain routes that we think we are going to be able to use in the game that week and spend extra time going over them, running them, talking about them, running them, talking about them, and then the next day in practice you can see improvement in the execution. I think it has been good in the whole group. Deion has been a big part of that. They have been very diligent about doing that after practice for a number of weeks now and I think it is starting to pay off.

**Q: Is Deion becoming more of a playmaker? He has been making sideline catches, he had a third and 18, I think it was last week. Is he stepping up?

BB:** Yes. We all know that Deion is capable of making plays. He certain has had his moments since he has been here that he has made them. I think, again, whether it is Deion, whether it is Tom Ashworth, whether it is put any name you want in there, it really just comes back to one word for us individually and as a team and that is consistency.

**Q: Five weeks into the season, do you feel pretty good about the draft that you had this year?

BB:** Well we are still only a third of the way through the season so we will wait until the final report card on that. I think that the rookies as a group have worked hard. They have been out on the field for the most part on a very regular basis. They haven't missed a lot of time. If you are out there every day, and you work hard, then you should improve. Almost every player will improve in that situation. That is what has happened. They have all been out on the field. They have all been working relatively hard and they have improved. As we all know, those things can change in a hurry. If they don't continue to work hard or if they can't stay out on the field, then I have a hard time seeing how they are going to get any better. As long as those elements are in place, hopefully they will continue to improve. That is really what our goal is. I think that they all have a long way to go. But, they have all made a lot of progress since we started too. There is a positive there.

**Q: When you took [Dan] Klecko in the draft, did you foresee this multi-dimensional role or did that just kind of evolve?

BB:** I would say a little bit of both. When you have a player like that in the draft, you talk about him in a couple of different ways. One, you say, 'Well what has he been doing? What have you seen him do?' How does that fit into your system and will he be able to do that for you or is he going to have to do something different. When you watched Klecko play at Temple, first of all, you saw him play every position on the defensive line. He played right end, he played right tackle, he played on the nose, he played on the three-technique on the guard, and he played left end. It wasn't like you just put on the film and say, 'Okay, there is Klecko. He is right there where he always is.' That is not where he always is. He played all of the different spots along the line for Temple. So you could see that he had a little bit of position flexibility. The further away from the ball he was, the more on the end of the line he was, the closer he is to becoming an outside linebacker. The more he is one the center, then the closer he is to being a defensive tackle. You could see a little bit of that. Every play he had his hand on the ground. He was never a stand up player, which he has been a little bit for us. In terms of his overall athleticism for a big guy, and when I say big, he is 280 pounds. We thought he would have a chance to help us in the kicking game, which he has shown some ability to do that, which is another example of a guy playing on his feet not with his hand on the ground. To a degree we saw a little bit of flexibility, I think because of some circumstances and his personal situation as well, what he showed that he could do, we have expanded that a little bit and that is why he is where he is. I think it is a combination of both.

**Q: Do the Giants have a specific characteristic that helps them get off the net after they have been struggling or had a tough loss?

BB:** I think when they play well, that solves a lot of things. I would say the same thing about our ream. We haven't played well and we've come back and played better, not turned the ball over, not given up big plays on defense, played better in the red zone, scored when we got down there and kept the other team out. You do a few of those things, as close as he games are in the NFL, and that turns the outcome around. You just play better on third down. When the Giants play well, which they do a lot of the time, every team has their bad plays. We have them, everybody has them but the giants play well a lot and they are tough. They are tough in all three phases of the game. They are a hard nose football team. They are physical and they have a lot of skill.

**Q: Would you consider them more physical than Tennessee?

BB:** I would put them right up there on the defensive line. Defensively, yes. I put them right up there. First of all, I would say that their skill players are as good as anybody's in the league. I think their defensive front, Hamilton, Griffin, Strahan, Holmes, and the rotational people that they have in there with them, that is a very physical group. I put them right up there with anybody. Their linebackers are fast. They are very active. Dhani Jones probably runs 4.5. Barrow ran in the 4.5's when he came out. Short is another tough, active guy in there. They have a lot of range. Shaun Williams, again, like we talked about Tank Williams last week, is 220 pounds, runs under 4.5. They have a lot of big fast guys backing up that physical front four and that makes it tough. It is tough to get those guys when you are worried about the big guys on the line if you are too worried about the guys behind them, then you don't get the people in front, then that is a problem. That is what you have to deal with.

**Q: How much do you appreciate the type of effort that Ty Law has shown you over the last couple of weeks?

BB:** I appreciate it a lot. I think he has played hard. He has shown a lot of grit and toughness and competitiveness really it's been three weeks in a row. I think everybody has seen it. You have seen it, the fans have seen it, his teammates have seen it, the coaches have seen it, and you can't deny it. He is tough and he is competitive. He has really put it out there on the field every Sunday and we know that he has been less than 100 percent. But he has played hard.

**Q: Do you think his teammates have picked up on it?

BB:** Oh, without a doubt. Sure. Absolutely. How could you not? It would be impossible not to. He has shown a lot of courage and a lot of toughness and a lot of competitiveness because he is still out there against top players. It is not like you can't find him out there at corner. There is a lot of space between him and whoever the next guy is. He has played very competitively and hasn't backed down from anybody.

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